Technology is changing, the market is changing music is changing and so is it’s role in our lives. Not so much the actual sounds – which haven’t changed as drastically as I’d have expected – but how we access music and what we use it for is different. In former times bands could release 7 inch vinyl discs with three minutes of music on each side but now artists have to work to stay relevant in a multimedia world. Increasingly the idea of writing film soundtracks or making music for games is the holy grail of emerging artists. My own “Tabula Rasa” was written as the accompanying CD to a new age book (which didn’t happen) and E-Con records’ “Pano” release comes with photographic pairings to the sonics. I know of artists working on music to accompany meditations to Tarot cards and Reiki sessions. Savvy musicians are writing their music with a purpose – savvy musicians are going multimedia.
Enter DBPIT & XxeNa from Italy who’s latest offering “White Stories Of Black Whales” is a CD with a colouring book. As they say on their website “Colour your time away freeing your spirit with the big whales! Relax listening to the inspiring music while you drift away towards distant shores…” Colouring books are really in right now, and not must for kids, as adults recognize that colouring is therapeutic, a way to get into a placid headspace without zoning out, and a form of creativity that’s not demanding or exclusionary. White Stories Of Black Whales is a CD and set of colouring-friendly illustrations that were designed to complement each other.
It’s a fantastic idea that makes the multimedia element active rather than passive. The illustrations themselves are quite simple, almost like Mondrian works – reducing the elements of an image to the simplest components to the point of abstraction to highlight the spiritual order behind the subject. Only XxeNa’s images are more fluid, more organic and summon something tribal and ancient. There’s enough space in these to individually customise through colour, going for complex shading if one chose. My only complaint here is that we only have four images which can only be coloured one time each. The multimedia aspect here is very clever but might be limited in use, leaving us with just the CD in a very short time.
As for the music, DBPIT gives us just over 46 minutes of accomplished ambient music that is inspired by whales and veers very heavily to the dark side of ambience. It’s tones and drones and textures, masterfully layered. I think of John Foxx’s new “London Overgrown” album or the first side of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno’s “No Pussyfooting” except both of those works are a lot less “dark”. I like the dark ambience of “White Stories of Black Whales” – it’s rich and engaging and really good ambient music. But I might choose something more uplifting and soothing for a colouring experience.
The creativity of these two artists – XxeNa [drawings, concept, layout] and DBPIT [music] – is undeniable. The quality of this release is high and their mission is admirable. For me “White Stories of Black Whales” is more a demonstration of what can be achieved if this medium is explored and developed more fully. I’d like to see these two, both extremely accomplished artists, follow this up with a next release that provides a soundtrack more optimised for a soothing positive brain experience and gives us enough illustrations to really spend some time with. For now, I’m very content with this offering and recommend it highly to lovers of music and art who seek a different and more engaging way to use them both. “White Stories of Black Whales” is an independent release that’s available at Bandcamp. Get your copy at https://dbpitxxena.bandcamp.com/album/white-stories-of-black-whales